The Evolution of Replacing Lacrosse Equipment
What is every lacrosse player’s biggest fear?
This fear does not deal with the final score of a game, receiving an award, or letting their team down. This fear is much more personal because it is apart of every lacrosse player’s identity.
Every lacrosse player’s greatest fear is when the day finally comes that their stick, their gloves, or any piece of their equipment breaks.
At least it used to be.
In 2019, it is much easier to replace equipment than past decades thanks to the advanced technology and materials used in the mesh, shafts, cleats, heads, gloves, pads, and helmets that lacrosse players use today. The price of a high quality stick or pair of gloves has also gone down making lacrosse more accessible to everyone. Watching college and professional games recently at least one or two players are breaking sticks or having equipment issues every game. In the past this would be a huge problem, but players are now able to pick up their back up, that they may have never used before, and throw passes and take shots well enough to get the job done right away.
The death of a stick or a pair of gloves is not as devastating for players as it used to be.
When I go home and look at my old sticks and equipment from my first years playing and from high school, I get nostalgia for everything that had to be done to break in your pocket, gloves, and arm pads, but then I realize I definitely do not miss it. There was hard work and long hours of practice that had to put in to get comfortable with your stick or equipment to be able to play with them in a game. Practicing in the rain would mean having to work in the mesh all over again. Finally being able to hit the same brick during wallball, making a great play in a game, or even scoring a goal was worth all the hours of reading tutorials of how to break in mesh or trying to boil a lacrosse head in your kitchen to make it flexible for faceoffs.
I never played with a wooden stick, leather gloves, or used a traditional pocket so I personally do not know the struggles that came with breaking in, but I cannot even imagine the frustration of how long it took to get used to them and the devastation of a stick breaking back then.
When they played with those sticks and wore those gloves they earned every pass and goal they scored in the weeks before they ever took them. The stiff leather gloves needing to be softened up to be able to control the stick. The hard leather gutting in the heavy wooden stick had to be stretched and played with for days and weeks to form a pocket able to hold on to the ball and pas with precision. Adjustments to the leathers and strings had to made constantly especially in bad weather. If the stick broke the process would have to start all over again, but they could not be afraid of breaking them because they had to play as hard as they could to win the game. Every wooden stick having to be handmade was a huge reason that lacrosse remained a smaller sport for decades.
It is huge for the growth of lacrosse that equipment has become so easily accessible and ready to use especially at the youth level. Kids playing lacrosse for the first time can buy a stick at a sporting goods store or order one online like the Powell’s prestrung sticks that have a pocket ready to use right away. Ten years ago kids would have likely gotten a stick with bad factory stringing and mesh as hard as a rock from those same stores making playing lacrosse twice as difficult. The lacrosse equipment and mesh designers of the past suffered many sleepless nights to make it so easy for lacrosse players today to not have to stress about replacing their equipment.
So if you ever get annoyed at having to buy a new shaft, head, or mesh and having to take a couple of hours to get it ready to play with, think of all of the players before you who toiled away day after day that would be burning with envy if they could see you now..